How Can I Tell If My Internet Is Being Throttled?

If your videos aren’t loading, your games are lagging, and you sit for extremely long minutes waiting to visit a website, then it’s possible your internet is being throttled. Sometimes your ISP (internet service provider) will throttle your internet because you’ve reached your data cap. In other words, you reached your limit and have to pay extra to get more speed. It might also throttle your speed during times of high traffic.

Other times, it’s just because you don’t have a good ISP. Whatever the reason, here are some ways you can tell if your data is being throttled and some ideas for what you can do about it.

Run a free speed test

First, you’ll want to run a free online speed test to check how fast your internet is. Then you’ll need to compare how fast your data is to the speed you should have (or what’s advertised on your ISP’s website).

Here is the trick: some ISP’s guarantee up to 100 Mbps, for example, but that doesn’t mean it’s always that fast. Ask what your plan’s actual speed is, since maximum usually fluctuates.

If your speeds are lower than what you’re paying for, you’re either being throttled or there’s a problem with your service. In case of the later, you should contact your ISP to get your internet speeds worked out.

Check your data cap

Usually, internet providers throttle your speed when you’ve reached your data cap. You can see how much data you’ve used by logging into your account or calling your ISP. If you’ve hit your cap, it’s safe to assume your internet is being throttled. You’ll need to wait for the cap to reset at the end of the billing period, pay for extra data, or upgrade your plan.

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Is your internet fast enough?
If your internet is dragging at a snail’s pace but you haven’t hit your data cap, your plan might not have the speeds you need. Check out our internet speed guide and calculate the bandwidth your household needs.

Run a free throttling test

There is such a thing as an internet throttling test. This one in particular, called The Internet Health Test, helps you determine whether your ISP is really hurting your web speed.1 Rather than just test your speed, a more in-depth throttling test looks at your ISP directly to detect if there are any problems.

Upgrade your internet

If you’re being throttled month after month, you’re probably not on a plan that works for you. You may need to seek out a plan or provider that offers higher data caps or even unlimited data.

If you’re not being throttled but battling sluggish internet nonetheless, check out our tips for speeding up your internet.

Top 5 ISPs with unlimited data
ProviderData capMonthly priceDownload speedsLearn more
AT&T FiberUnlimited$35$60300940 MbpsView Plans
Earthlink InternetUnlimited$49.95$99.9531000 MbpsView Plans
Frontier FiberOptic InternetUnlimited$49.99$74.99500940 MbpsView Plans
Spectrum Internet®Unlimited$49.99$69.99200400 MbpsView Plans
Suddenlink InternetUnlimited$30$70751000 MbpsView Plans

Compare the best internet providers in your area.

Sources 

  1. Battle for the Internet, “The Internet Health Test.” Accessed November 25, 2020.